One of Mark Twain’s more famous sayings:”What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so”. However amusing I think this isn’t true, at least not entirely, as I often encounter questions begging for answers–and not knowing these answers can lead to problems. I’ve often thought: “Gee, I wish I was still working at Miner Institute and had a graduate student available to explore this area.” Graduate students can be terrific resources to thoroughly examine issues and questions that are bugging their professor or supervisor.
In agriculture in general (and forage production in particular) there are a lot of questions just begging for answers: How well will the various cool grass species persist when harvested along with reduced-lignin alfalfa when the alfalfa is in the bud stage? Will reduced-lignin alfalfa stand up better during adverse conditions (wind, wet) when grown with a forage grass vs. in monoculture? If so, are there some grasses that will work better with the new alfalfa genetics? How much differently will BMR corn perform vs. conventional corn when grown in narrow rows? How reliable are university corn hybrid trials involving only two rows of each hybrid? Do differences in plant height affect the performance of the various hybrids in these trials? How has climate change affected crop production practices–we know some of the impacts but not others–and there’s no question that the length of the growing season has increased. Are there crops we should be considering now that we didn’t twenty years ago? Lots of questions, not nearly enough answers.